April 10: Prime Minister Tony Blair tells parliament there is “no doubt at all that the development of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein poses a severe threat, not just to the region but to the wider world”.
September 24: Blair presents parliament with a dossier on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction that states Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons in just 45 minutes. This claim is splashed across newspaper front pages.
March 20: US and British forces invade Iraq after failing to
obtain a final clear United Nations mandate to do so. Saddam
Hussein’s regime collapses in a matter of days. No weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are used.
March 25: Blair counsels patience on the search for WMDs, saying: “There is absolutely no doubt at all that these weapons of mass destruction exist.”
May 29: BBC radio airs a report quoting an unidentified senior official as saying Blair’s office ordered that the September dossier be “sexed up”, notably to add in the 45-minute claim.
June 6: The government complains about the report and seeks to find out who was responsible for the BBC’s allegation. Government weapons scientist David Kelly is later named as the source.
July 17: Kelly kills himself days after facing a tough grilling from a committee of lawmakers. Blair immediately orders a judicial inquiry.
August 1: Lord Brian Hutton opens his inquiry. It begins taking evidence on August 11 and continues until October 13.
January 28: Hutton finds the government was not responsible
for Kelly’s death and denounces the BBC report as unfounded”. Blair hails this as a clear vindication. The BBC’s chairman and director general subsequently resign.
Later that day David Kay, the former head of the US-British Iraq Survey Group, which has led the hunt for WMDs since the war, calls for an analysis of US intelligence, admitting: “We were all wrong, probably”.
February 2: US President George W. Bush says he will launch an independent investigation into intelligence on Iraq’s alleged
February 3: Blair announces that Britain will hold its own
inquiry, telling lawmakers that “we have a look at the intelligence that we received and whether it was accurate or not”. The inquiry is to be headed by Lord Robin Butler, a veteran former head of the civil service.
July 9: A Senate investigation reports that the US intelligence
community “mischaracterised” information about Iraq’s weapons before the war, but says Bush’s administration did not pressure CIA analysts.
July 10: Four days before the Butler inquiry reports, a former
head of Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee says Blair must
assume responsibility for any British intelligence mistakes. “The buck stops there,” Dame Pauline Neville-Jones says.
July 13: Blair receives advanced copy of the Butler report and
immediately defends the decision to go to war in Iraq, denying he had been fed “duff” intelligence.
July 14: Butler delivers his report.